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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cheesecake Update

It was delicious!

Also, I now have a head cold (probably not from making the cake, but just generally being run down after three really busy weeks). I'm going to bed because tomorrow I have an all-day volleyball tournament, dinner with the girls, and a date.

Yup. You read that right.

I'm not sure what's more astounding really; that I managed to not follow a single recipe and successfully make a fabulous goat cheese cheesecake on my first try or that someone wants to hang out with me enough to not care that I have a cold. Either way, I'm calling today a success and hitting the sack as early on a Friday night as I've done in years.

Love always, ~Heather

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

What I Did Tonight

As my Lenten promise, I am going to be writing a letter a day. 40 days, 40 letters. I already have one to make up for, as I didn't think of this brilliant plan until I was actually in church during the 7 p.m. service last night. I have also decided that this counts as a letter because I have a decent number of regular readers (like you!) and you deserve to read too.

In fact, this writing process is about reflection. I try to pray as frequently as possible, but I'm not sure I'm really reflecting on myself and my life as much as I need to. My hope is that by writing to others and talking about what is going on in my life, I'll be able to build a better relationship with my friends (you!), family, and God.

Tonight was the most interesting part of my day, so I'll share that in words and pictures (ooo, maybe it'll help remind me to take more pictures too!).

Tonight, I made a goat cheese cheesecake. I have no idea if it is delicious, but it is in fact a cheesecake. The ordeal of putting it together will hopefully not affect the opinion of the partakers tomorrow. To prove that the story does have at least a happy ending, I present, my cheesecake:


Basically, I've never made cheesecake before. I wanted to make something really special, and decided goat cheese cheesecake would be pretty darn special. I started making the crust, decided to ex-nay the ground nuts and didn't remember to decrease the amount of butter. Bad plan.

As I was pre-baking my graham cracker crust (made in the food processor because I'm awesome like that), the excess butter leaked through the springform pan and onto the bottom of the oven. This caused an oven disaster that lasted two hours, three tries at pre-heating (and subsequent coolings so I could scrub the bottom of the oven), and a phone call to Mom.

Once I got that taken care of (actually in the midst of the coolings) I started making the filling. Well, I tried. But even though I had bought tons of cheese (40 ounces), I didn't have enough to double the recipe (the cake needs to feed about 25 people). I asked two neighbors, and no one had any cream cheese. As one pointed out, I could have "just gone to the market." But, this is me and not improvising a solution is like admitting defeat (to whom or what, I may never know).

Instead, I looked up recipes that had different original measurements so I could create a solution that would fill an 11" round (instead of the typical 8-9"), since I'm guessing that size will come out to about 24 slices (fingers crossed for at least one person on a diet). I couldn't find one. So, I combined two recipes. Below is the chart I made for myself:


(Yes, I named it before I decided to write this post because I'm geeky like that.) I'll let you know whether or not any of that is worth using and share more tips after I'm certain it tastes good. For now, it has five more minutes of cooling before it goes in the fridge for the night. I'll serve it with blackberries tomorrow and hope for the best.

After that, I ate dinner and watched a little Ugly Betty. Kate came over to discuss her date (more on this in a later post) and I started sewing. I promised Lorien a LONG time ago (like late January long time ago) that I could fix her coat. The lining in the pockets was completely destroyed and there was a section on the back that was ripped through too. And now, I present ... Lorien's coat!


There's a bit more "bubbling" on this next one, but it was the first one I sewed and I can correct it either after it gets back from the dry cleaners or this summer when Lorien doesn't need it for awhile.


This last bit is the fleece patch I put in the lining (actually finished this part a couple of weeks ago). It does look a little "orphan Annie," but it will be on the inside, and slip stitching into a fabric that pulls and shreds easily once ripped (as this obviously was) can be tricky. Well, it's tricky to me. Thank goodness I'm not a perfectionist about everything.


So my self-reflective lesson of the night is this: having patience and trying new things (making cheesecake, pockets, etc.) is good. Using pre-structured guidelines might make it easier, but certainly not more adventurous. Oh, and I have to write earlier because I'm super sleepy!

Love always, ~Heather

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A New Courage

HISTORICAL POST - Original date: 6/28/2008 at 11:35 p.m.

Tonight, after watching An American in Paris with P, she lent me two books. One of them was a Brave New World. Now I intend to start reviewing the books I read for everyone's perusal, but the title really hit home with events from earlier in the day.

I have this policy, which you may or may not know about. It is a personal standard that I live by - when I think something nice about a person, I tell them. This policy applies to walking past people who smell good, or noticing shoes, umbrellas, appetizing smelling homemade lunches, whatever. It also encompasses a much greater array of "nice thoughts" as well.

My rationale is that you never know if someone is having a bad day, or had never received this particular compliment before and now, they will know that someone thought this nice thing about them. (I feel inclined to note here that I often think more things than I am able to share and I also tend to do this more in person than in correspondence - so don't feel left out!) The only risk to this otherwise (I think) benevolent behavior, is that people can get startled by the news that they "smell good" from a complete stranger. Also, some people (myself included) just don't always know how to take a compliment.

Today, instead of giving one particular compliment, I didn't. I let the moment pass me by. Everything was lined up and the conversation was steering itself towards it (as opposed to me trying to bring it up), but I lost my nerve (or so I thought).

I walked away feeling terrible about it. What if they needed it? What if a better moment never arises? But, the truth is, it was the right thing to do. It was like being on a diet and when faced with a chocolate sundae, I decided not to say it looked delicious. Because saying it aloud could encourage an unfavorable behavior.

In the past, I have more freely given the particular comment I withheld today. One time it resulted in my best friend. Other times it led to utter misinterpretation and long-winded explanations (you know the old saying, if you have to explain the joke, it wasn't any good). So, although I second-guessed myself, I'm glad I found the courage NOT to say something, instead of the courage to say something that could have been damaging.

(2009 Update: I obviously never finished writing this and have no idea who this was written about! Guess it proves it couldn't have been that important to tell them.)

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Proactive Waiting

Waiting is probably one of the hardest things in the world. It requires patience, perseverance, and willpower.

Sometimes I shock myself with both my possession of these characteristics and with my lack of them.

Right now I am waiting. I have been told to wait, so I am. But I am not in a line, I'm in my life. My life should not be bound by anticipation - it should be bound by action.

So I am proactively waiting. It's like putting your name in for a table at a restaurant and then flirting with the host/hostess so your group is seated first. Except I'm not flirting (which many, if not everyone would tell you I sort of suck at) or looking for a table.

I'm waiting on my future, and in a way I've never had to before. This is the first year I haven't moved in some way or another in almost a decade. Somehow, finally staying put has forced me to look around and notice the speed at which I am going. I don't like it.

There are some places where I'm keeping pace, others where I'm ahead and others where I just seem to have stopped. Like, sat down in the middle of a race, stopped. So, in an effort to keep to my 2009 promises, I am trying to eliminate all of the "sitting down" in my life. I'm either at least standing up while I catch my breath, or I'm taking baby steps forward. It's really the only thing I can do.

Because sometimes, there really is no place to go. No big step forward, no milestone to reach, no painted finish line. In totally cliche terms, this is really the time to remember that life is less about the destination and more about the journey.

I'm definitely on a journey. I've plotted some of the points I'd like to visit along the way, but I don't know how long it will take to get there, or if I'll ever make it to all of them (or if I'll still want to by the time I do). I don't know if the direct route is actually the fastest or most effective. In fact, I know shockingly little about this journey. I'm on it. God's on it. And right now, we're exploring some station the train decided to stop in. I'm not sure how long this layover is going to be, but I'll be waiting. Proactively waiting. Because when the train is ready to leave the station again, I'll be on it.

Or maybe I'll decide to walk.

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. Could the quote of the day be more appropriate? "To be is to do." - Immanuel Kant

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lieu

HISTORICAL POST FROM 11/10/08 AT 11:35 PM

In lieu of a post that is long over do, I'm going to share some quotes to think about ...

Josh Billings - "Common sense is instinct, and enough of it is genius."
Doris Lessing - "Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself."
John N. Mitchell - "The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire."

LE CHEMIN N'EST JAMAIS LONG PARMI LES AMIS.

Des fois dans la vie, tu trouves un(e) ami(e) spécial(e);
Quelqu'un qui change ta vie juste en y faisant partie.
Quelqu'un qui te fait rire jusqu'à ne plus pouvoir t'arrêter;
Quelqu'un qui te fait croire que la vraie bonté existe encore en ce monde.
Quelqu'un qui peut te convaincre qu'il y a vraiment une porte qui attend simplement que tu l'ouvres.
C'est l'amitié pour toujours.

You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

The future has a way of arriving unannounced.
~George Will

Despite all efforts to discourage me, I refuse to believe in anything less than attempting perfection. ~Heather

I've got plenty more in my little collection, but I want to catch you up on the recent excitement soon too.

Love always,

~Heather

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Monday, February 09, 2009

About Me at Quarter to Midnight

Lately I've been busy with a gajillion things and haven't blogged a single one of them. I understand that this makes me kind of a goober. I apologize for my goober-dom.

I have been writing though, including on a daily blog for work. After spending a decent portion of the day on blogger or reading blogs and online journalism, my brain does not want to blog at night. In fact, every part of me wants to be doing something that does not involve my poor little typing fingers.

This, however, does not help my loyal readers. It doesn't tell you what I'm doing, how I'm doing, or give you the pleasure of the ridiculous tangential storytelling technique I so often apply here. So, as a short favor (since it is late and I'm exhausted), I'll give you some bullets on me and where I am. Five minutes of them in fact. OKay, go.
  • Everyday my Gchat message is a new movie quote that is somehow relevant to the day. I am keeping track of them (and why I chose them) in a spreadsheet. It's like mini-journaling.
  • My volleyball team is amazing. I played in tournaments basically every weekend last month and have hung out with the girls a bunch of times too. They're fantastic and inspirational, and I love playing with them.
  • My other friends have been great as well. I'm super bummed about the departure of one of my newest friends, but that is the nature of living in DC - one of the most transitional cities on the planet I think.
  • Lots of people I know are in the midst of crazy relationship/dating scenarios. I am perpetually single. This makes it odd that people talk to me and say I give good advice about stuff like this. Mostly because I feel like I need it just to get through that primordial ooze stage of dating where you're not even in a relationship yet (which I never actually am).
  • Book club was an incredibly good idea. More excellent girl bonding time.
  • TiVo helps me save time zipping through commercials.
  • I love my new running shoes and have broken them in walking. They will lose their running virginity before the weather turns cold again at the end of the week. I can't wait.
  • Weight loss is finally on par for the course again. Super huge bonus. Also, the good truffle brownie mix at Trader Joe's has a reasonable calorie count for must-have-chocolate days.
  • Too many of my friends are leaving town or planning too.
  • I'm stage managing a musical at a DC elementary school again this year. I can't wait to hang out with all 97 kids and the dog. Yup. A live dog on stage. I keep hearing Mr. Franklin's voice in my head from those moments right before curtain for The Great Gatsby...
  • I have actually been doing something everyday that makes me happy (2009 resolution. Check.)
  • My annual physical went well.
  • My family is going on a cruise this spring and if all goes to plan, I will be about 5 pounds from my goal weight before we leave the dock. Also, I'll be visiting places I've never been before with people I love and rarely get to see (additional resolution!).
  • I'm working on travel plans to other places I've never been before for later in the year.
  • I love singing and God and the relative security of my job.
  • Accio, one of my fish, passed away this week. He's now wherever the little souls of fish go when their bodies head for the water treatment plant.
  • I'm recycling enough to not fill a kitchen trash bag once a week. And I have a roommate. Pretty awesome.
  • Spring will be here before I know it.
  • I'm glad I have entertaining neighbors.
  • I'm starting a young adult group at my church. Sister R and Father M (I haven't asked name permission yet) will be helping out. Totally loving that.
  • Oh my gosh, it's been 15 minutes and I'm totally missing my bedtime. Goodnight!
Love always, ~Heather

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Scheduled


I have so much to blog I don't have time to look out the window! But, I made a promise and I'm sticking to it. Expect a post tonight and some historical pieces that never got finished to pop up over the next week as I get back into my blogging habit.

Love always, ~Heather

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